Monday, August 7, 2017

Lush Closure on Famous Bedminster Pond


Showers and thunderstorms in the forecast for today, I put rain gear in the trunk, along with essentials, and got to bed before I would be too tired this morning. Matt and I had purchased nonresident NY fishing licenses for the day, and after I awoke and after Trish filled me in--heavy rain and flooding--that's what I rued. They're only $10.00 for a day, so the state of New York really does offer a deal...as they have to, as sales slipped when license fees increased too much...and I dismissed the issue as a friendly contribution to the state's fisheries on our part. What the hell, the DECALS site must state somewhere the fee is nonrefundable.

I already had the hunch. A good reason to have waited on purchasing and printing licenses at the last possible minute, but the way my family operates on the fly, we might have forgotten. And then we would have had to drive to whatever that town's named way up in the hills...and have hoped the resort there still sells licenses. Now that Trish and Matt own mobile devices, this would have made making connections easier, but I won't go into that.

The hunch. I forget specifically. Something moved me to have a good look at the framed photo in our living room--Trish and Matt underneath a big sign for Port Jervis Diner, where we always eat after our Barryville river floats--and that made me feel sure, as I've felt for the past three years...sure that moment framed for generations to come is of our last moments at Port Jervis Diner, and Barryville is a thing of our past as well.

I mentioned my feeling to Trish yesterday. I was wrong, of course, she said. But it's just how events unfold. I can always feel this. That is, if I happen to be in touch, which I'm not always--I thought the drive to the shore yesterday would be a breeze--but I seem to usually know in advance an outcome. It's just that a hunch is never knowledge. You never know an outcome until you have it.

Helps to be prepared. They say so in Boy Scouts. And if Baden-Powell came up with the notion, it's probably a very good one to heed.

I'm happy Trish did not take disappointment deeply. She loves Barryville trips. "Can we go tomorrow and Hopatchcong (she affectionately mispronounces the lake's name) on Wednesday?"

"The river may be more than muddy. Flooded." Besides, I indicated, there in Barryville, it's not so near its sources as to possibly crest after rain stops.

(We've caught smallmouths in the muddied river, but not the really flooded.) Judging the downpours and the current level of the North Branch Raritan as any rough gauge to judge the greater river, that Wild & Scenic stretch is flooded. So now she says she'll get a Wednesday off near her birthday. She wants to be on the river up there. And at the Diner thereafter. Hopatcong will patch us up in the meantime.

What a luscious wet day. I wanted to fish at least a little, after going to the Bookworm as a family in Bernardsville, directly across Claremont Road from Saint Bernard's Episcopal Church, the roadway crossing over a possible trout stream (I examined the brook and it might be), the name of the road having suggested to me the famous Claremont stretch of the South Branch Raritan River, which I've fly fished and blogged about. Saint Bernard struggled with philosopher Peter Abelard, against the philosopher's analytical approach to knowledge, and emphasized Lectio Divina, or the apprehension of "The Living Word." In other words, direct and unabridged presence of spirit; a power which is no small matter. Bernard cooled his lust by ice baths, and frankly, I'm reminded of Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, imploring, in the song "Whole Lot of Love," the subject's need of cooling. Wild juxtaposition this may seem, it's really no joke. To take too much of this presence is to fall as heavily as tungsten, much less lead.

After wonderful experience at the bookstore, we ate at the Bernardsville Café, the portabella pillia or whatever that is I ate, delicious. I had bought a biography of Leonardo Da Vinci's younger years. Recently, I told a friend Leonardo was just a farm boy who went to the city, interested in becoming an artist. Da Vinci means "from the Vinci," and the Vinci is no place of distinction at all...except now that Leonardo came from the fields. True to my ruthless self-criticisms, I positively lust for the author of this book to correct my blithe, fairy tale assumptions about this genius. As if this monumental figure were every bit as naïve as my rural teenage moods, my singing "Sarah Smile" by Hall & Oates to abandoned pre-dawn twilight while pedaling miles in perfect solitude...to go fishing, of course. He came to the city as an artistic greenhorn at age 20. By what foolishness--I guess--that I've gathered.

And I had to buy To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway. Haven't read that one. And the harsh realism--minus the story's content involving criminality--seems appropriate to me now. The job I hold. Read the first three pages there in Bernardsville. Not least is the biography about The American Visionary, John Quincy Adams, "a sadly underrated character." This I must read, I told myself, and placed the book back on the shelf with the absolute precision of prayer. I never over extend my means. I know the book. I know the spirit. And the latter awaits me.

I wanted to fish a little, but, rod in hand, I came upon police presence at the neighborhood pond quite contrary to my innocent desire, and I did not want to make company with any questionable scene, so I turned back, gathered my wallet and car keys, drove to the famous Bedminster Pond with little light left to get some photographs....and that's all I expected. The open water you see in the photo opening these lines I write is an illusion. Its actual space hardly extends 15 feet from shore and there the water is too shallow to hold fish. Inches. Wall to wall weed cover. (Almost, that is.) A sort of living likeness to some Jurassic Swamp now fundamentally providing for Exxon's profit.

Very nice over there. You've got to love a swampy pond. Especially if you live in a society driven by fossil fuel and presided over by some logical outcome or other of Middle East involvement. After all, the dancing step of Fred Astaire, while he sang "That's Entertainment," depended upon spoils to have had the mainstream reach Hollywood still enjoys today. I walked in lush humid wetness, got in my car, parked at home, and walked back over to our pond. No one present. I fished. And 20 minutes later, finished. Quite dark. No bass lunged for my spinnerbait, despite this exquisite spring-like spell of precipitation's closure. 

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